Artistic inspiration often finds its most fertile ground outside the gates of convention. Such was the case with the lighting and production design that Max Lenox and Andrew Goedde created for Mt. Joy on the band’s current world tour.
While conventional wisdom advises not to mix too many colors on stage at the same time, Lenox and Goedde have been enthralling crowds, and supporting the psychedelic indie group’s music, with a full spectrum design that sometimes displays a rainbow of colors side by side.
For this new show, we really wanted to use bold, vibrant colors to capture the band’s energy and creativity. We used multiple colors to create a sense of chaos and movement that enhances the psychedelic feel. While some designers may be hesitant to use a lot of color, I think taking risks and experimenting with different palettes can lead to unique and impactful designs. Ultimately, the use of bold, vibrant colors was essential to capturing the band’s essence and conveying their energy to the audience, said Lenox, of Wide Open Productions.
Creating many of these colors, while also contributing to the geometric shaping that helped the rainbow flow smoothly was a collection of 50 CHAUVET Professional fixtures, which, like the rest of the lighting rig, was supplied by 4Wall Entertainment.
The 32 COLORado PXL Bar 16 motorized tilting battens in the rig were instrumental in adding this structural element (along with an abundance of colors) to the design. Lenox and Goedde used 24 of these linear fixtures to frame the set’s 31.4-foot wide by 15.8-foot tall video wall. The remaining eight units were positioned on the stage deck.
“A major goal we had when designing this show was to draw the audience to the imagery on the upstage video wall that was brilliantly created by Andrew Keyser”, said Lenox. “At the same time, we wanted to maintain a soft transition between the negative space around the room, the floor, and the flown lighting package, as well as the wall itself”.
Given this goal, the idea of throwing up just one big upstage video wall wasn’t in the cards for this design.
We had to get more creative with the way we incorporated the video wall. That is when we decided to create a box of light around the wall with the eight PXL Bar 16s that weren’t used to frame the walls themselves. We really like the square lens on the LEDs and how we can get tight beams for big looks but also taking the zoom out and getting really nice seamless color gradients, which we used a lot in the show, said Goedde.
Lenox elaborated on how the designers relied on their battens to create an immersive unified look embracing lighting and video. “Having the PXL Bar 16’s framed around the video wall and acting as floor side lights for the band led to a lot of ‘spill’ around the room”, he said. “Their home positions are ending up as happy little accidents, highlighting the architectural features of the venues every night!”
Also contributing to this holistic look were the shapes and forms created with the rig’s 16 Maverick MK3 Wash fixtures. “Jason Giafoo, our programmer did an amazing job creating effects with these fixtures”, said Lenox. “The zoom range on these fixtures made it easy to immerse the band in tight sheets of light, as well as silhouette them in wide punches of color. We also used the two Rogue R2X washes as toe lights for Matt, the lead singer, to highlight him in special moments throughout the set”.
In addition to Giafoo and content creator Keyser, others contributing to the show’s success were Cory Spery, tour lighting director; Mathew Penfound, tour video director; Joe Macario, video programmer; Jonathan Wuthrich, 4Wall project manager; and Phillips Harbarger, 4Wall sales agent. “We’re fortunate to have a great team”, said. Lenox.
Of course, the collaborative process began with Lenox and Goedde putting their heads together for this design.
Goedde and I worked well together on last year’s Mt. Joy tour, so I knew I wanted him to play a larger part in this year’s design. I drafted the initial concepts, and Goedde and I tweaked them until we both landed on a design that the band loved, said Lenox.
Added Goedde: “Having multiple heads on this design was definitely huge. Max has done such an incredible job on designing the look of this band the last few years. Being able to bounce ideas off each other throughout the design really goes a long way.”
The “chemistry” that Lenox and Goedde speak of means everything in a creative collaboration. Achieving the right chemistry is also ultimately important when balancing multiple colors. Both happened in this case and the Mt. Joy world tour is so much the better for it.